Amy Ling Lin perches on one of the tawny leather slingback chairs in her bright and airy nail salon, sundays (the lower case is intentional), and designates with a carefully manicured – but unpainted – finger the different sections of her space.
“The main entrance is the living room, the tea service space is the kitchen, and we’re in the bedroom right now, the pedicure space,” she lowers her voice, “When people do a pedicure, I really want to create privacy for them, that’s why we’re back here,” she motions to the corner area, “We want people to walk in and feel like they can just be relaxed and really be themselves.”
Comparing sundays to a cozy and beautifully appointed apartment is certainly apt, though it might also make sense to liken it to a private club; women gather around the chic grey sofa in the “living room” to chat with friends; coworkers sip tea and gossip; and everyone else simply closes their eyes and enjoys being pampered, occasionally with the assistance of a guided meditation headset. In particular, this new store in Hudson Yards – the brand’s third location since it opened in 2017 – acts as a type of oasis from the bustling Shops & Restaurants. The fact that all of the polishes are toxic-free, vegan, ten-free and cruelty-free – and that the salon doesn’t carry the unmistakable, overpowering aroma of most nail salons – makes it all the more welcoming.
Lin came up with the idea for a wellness-inspired nail salon while attending Columbia Business School, where she says she spent a lot of time “soul-searching” and “taking mediation classes, instead of finance class.”
She had worked in salons for years before going to school, and while there are over 5,000 salons in the United States (“more than Starbucks” she points out), she felt there was space in the market for a different kind of salon, one that prioritizes mindfulness and wellness.
“One time I was talking to a mom in the salon where I worked, and she said ‘Don’t be offended, but I don’t want to talk to anyone right now, I left my kids at home with a babysitter. This is my time for myself,'” Lin says, “This made me think about why people go to the nail salon, it’s not just to get their nails painted. It’s a self-care process, it’s taking time for themselves.”
sundays takes the theme of self-care further than your average salon; in addition to manicures, the salon also has a love letter-writing station for you to write letters to yourself; a gratitude journal; a tea-tasting area (the tea of your choice will be brewed and brought to your station during your manicure); and several guided meditations – custom made for sundays – which you can listen to on headsets during your manicure.
Of course, any spa service is a time for self-care, and a delightful opportunity to relinquish control– at least for a little while – and put yourself in someone else’s capable hands. But according to Lin, a manicure is an even more self-pampering treatment than say a facial, because the pleasure and joy of having beautiful nails and hands belongs entirely to you. “I don’t see my face, but I do see my hands,” she points out, “Other people see my face, but the hand is something for me.”
Her clients seem to agree with her; Lin recalls one customer who would stop in weekly for a pedicure in the winter, only to pop her feet back into her boots when she left. “I asked her about it, and she was like ‘I do this because when I take a shower I see my toenails and just feel happy,” Lin says.
“It’s interesting insight. People will say something nice to you if you dress nicely and put on makeup. But nail care like that is really self-care. It’s just for you.”
Related residents receive a special discount at sundays; learn more here.